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Portuguese quarantine fear sparks rush home

BRITONS were rushing to head home from holidays in Portugal yesterday as a surge of Covid infections there raised the risk of quarantine rules returning.

Almost all flights to the UK had sold out ahead of a possible re-introduction of the 14-day self-isolation requirement from Saturday morning.

Schools minister Nick Gibb warned all foreign travel was ‘a risk’, as he said the government was monitoring the Portugal situation ‘very carefully’.

Previous additions to the quarantine list have tended to be announced on Thursday, coming into force from 4am the following Saturday.

There are 22.3 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people in Portugal — up from 14.5 a week earlier. Downing Street says rates above 20 are of particular concern when it comes to deciding whether people arriving from a country should have to self-isolate for 14 days.

EasyJet sold out of flights from Faro to British airports today, tomorrow and Friday, while British Airways were offering seats for £554 each tomorrow compared to £139 for seven days later.

Chris Sainty, British ambassador to Portugal, cautioned: ‘Only travel if you are content to unexpectedly quarantine if required.’ Mr Gibb said: ‘We are in the middle of a global pandemic and if people do go abroad on holiday they do need to look at the advice before they go.’

Willie Walsh, boss of British Airways’ parent firm International Airlines Group, said putting Portugal back on the quarantine list would inflict further ‘chaos and hardship’ on travellers. The country had been taken off on August 22.